Baby’s Brain in Week 49
As your baby moves into her twelfth month, you’ll likely notice that she remembers certain people, places, and things. You may think, “There’s no way she remembers being at Grandma’s house,” but once there, she’ll head straight for the toy chest that opens in a unique way. If during the last visit Grandma demonstrated how to open it with a simple turning of a lever and a lifting of the lid, now—a month later—your child may remember and reenact it. She’s a smartie, all right!
What the Research Shows
Not only have researchers shown that 12-month-old babies can remember how to play with unique toys up to four weeks after having first learned (thanks to that “deferred imitation” skill), but they also can recall how to use them no matter what the context was in which they learned the skill.
Working with 12-month-olds in one trial, researchers demonstrated how to play with several toys the babies had never seen before, including colorful rings that moved back and forth along a tube. When prompted to play with the rings four weeks later, the children successfully copied what the adult had demonstrated earlier—and did so regardless of their setting: an odd-looking tent, scientific laboratory, or the babies’ own, familiar homes.
(What a far cry from the experiments done with babies in week 14, who learned to kick their legs—with ribbon tied to them—to make the mobile overhead jiggle.)
Week 49 Brain Booster
Conduct your own memory and imitation experiments using your mobile phone. Leave it out somewhere your child will see it, then notice the first time she picks it up and acts as if she’s using it. At this age, she’s not pretending to talk to anyone—she’s remembering and copying your actions from previous conversations. (Pretending is a skill that comes around age two and a half.)
Because regularly using cell phones has become the norm today, we’re raising a skilled generation who will mimic our own patterns of using them. Think about this: While you may or may not want your child highly interested in cell phones, you probably do hope your child becomes highly interested in books; if you are, demonstrate your use of them as consistently and with as much interest as you do your cell phone.
Keep in mind that children are extraordinarily aware and have good memories. Regularly ask yourself, “How would I feel if I saw my kid mimicking me do this?” Use these facts to your parenting advantage by demonstrating activities that you hope your children will copy—and that will serve them well.